On April 23, 2018, some 200 friends of the Newberry gathered to see the Newberry Library Award for outstanding contributions to the humanities presented to the 14th Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden.
In addition to being the first woman and the first African American to serve as Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden is only the second professionally trained librarian ever in that post and the first professional librarian to receive the Newberry’s highest honor. Chaired by Chung-Kyun and Robert Wedgeworth and Sheli and Burt Rosenberg, the event raised significant funds to support the Newberry’s collections and programs.
Describing Dr. Hayden’s career, which began at the Chicago Public Library, Newberry President David Spadafora noted, “Promoting access has consistently been Dr. Hayden’s guiding principle. During her presidency of the American Library Association, she centered her time in office on the theme of ‘Equity of Access’ and her focus as Librarian of Congress is making sure as many people as possible know about the treasures at the library and how they can use them – in her words, ‘opening up the treasure chest’ for all people.”
In accepting the award, Dr. Hayden highlighted the similarities between the goals of the Library of Congress and the Newberry. “The library is an embodiment of the American ideal of a knowledge-based democracy,” she said. “I was so excited to see the Newberry’s first-floor renovation plans, because we’re planning to do the same thing at the Library of Congress to encourage people to engage with the collection and with staff members. We take such good care of our collections – we preserve them and conserve them and spend time with them – but if they are not used and we are not growing scholars or engaging people, we will be mausoleums.”
Dr. Hayden plans to return to the Newberry in August to see the Newberry’s new spaces.
Listen to Carla Hayden’s acceptance speech: